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A bTORY ABOUT A REAL MAN                                                                        Jgg
which had watched his magnificent ramming operation
from the ground. They picked him up and carried him
to the nearest house. The adjacent streets at once became
so crowded that the doctor who had been called could
scarcely make his way to the house. As a result of the
impact with the roof, Struchkov's knee-caps were dam-
The news of Major Struchkov's heroic feat was imme-
diately broadcast in a special issue of the "Latest News".
The Chairman of the Moscow Soviet himself arrived to
take him to the best hospital in the metropolis. And when
Struchkov was brought into the ward he was followed by
orderlies carrying flowers, fruit and boxes of chocolateó
all gifts from the grateful inhabitants of Moscow.
He proved to be a cheerful and sociable fellow. No
sooner had he crossed the threshold of the ward than he
asked the patients what the "grub" was like, if the rules
were strict, and whether there were any pretty nurses in
the place. And while his knees were being bandaged he
told Klavdia Mikhailovna an amusing story about the
eternal subject of the army canteen, and paid her a rath-
er bold compliment on her good looks. When the nurse
left the ward he winked in her direction and said:
"Nice girl that! Strict? I suppose she puts the fear of
God into you, eh? But we'll not take to our heels.
Haven't you been taught tactics? Women are no more im-
pregnable than fortresses, and there isn't one that cannot
be taken," and with that he broke into a loud chuckle.
He behaved like an old-timer, as if he had been in the
hospital a whole year. He at once began to address every-
body by their first names and when he wanted to blow
his nose he unceremoniously picked up one of Meresyev's
parachute-silk handkerchiefs that the "meteorological
sergeant" had so painstakingly embroidered.
"From your lady love?" he asked with a wink at Alexei
and hid the handkerchief under his pillow. You've
got plenty, and if you haven't, your girl will be only too
glad to make you another one."
Notwithstanding the rosy flush that broke through the
tan of his cheeks, he looked no longer young. Deep
wrinkles radiated from the corners of his eyes to his
temples like crow's feet, and everything about him spoke